The Mint Goes to Pot … Again … on Sept. 23
One of North Carolina’s largest pottery shows returns to the Mint Museum Randolph lawn on Saturday, September 23. Charlotte artist Grace Stott is one of 55 skilled and respected artisans to have been selected for the juried show, Potters Market at the Mint. Get to know her and her work, which is apt to bring a smile to your face.
Over 50 of the state’s best potters, including Charlotte’s Grace Stott, will descend on the Mint’s lawn Sept. 23 for the perennially popular Potters Market
The Potters Market at the Mint has been around since 2005, but this is Charlotte artist Grace Stott’s first year to showcase her work at the prestigious event. And, she’s excited.
“I don’t know if I fit into the potters’ world,” she said. “I got pregnant during the pandemic and have a two-year-old now. I have not been prioritizing selling my work.”
Stott will be among 55 of the top potters in North Carolina to be featured in the state’s largest pottery sale when Potters Market returns to the Mint Museum Randolph’s lawn (2730 Randolph Rd.) on Saturday, September 23 from 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Potters were selected through a competitive jury process and will be showing and selling their best work at the event.
The Potter’s Market includes pottery demos, live music, a beer garden and food concessions. Admission to The Mint Museum is included in the $20 price of a Potters Market ticket. Purchase tickets and learn more about participating potters at pottersmarketatthemint.com.
ABOVE: Grace Stott in her studio. CREDIT: @M00sOsic
Meet the makers
“Potters Market at the Mint is one of the most beloved events hosted at the museum and a wonderful way to celebrate North Carolina’s rich pottery traditions,” said Todd Herman, Ph.D., The Mint’s president and CEO.
“We are excited to bring people … together to experience this one-of-kind event and to support our talented ceramic artists. It is a wonderful opportunity to see high-quality ceramic work in one place and meet the makers.”
The Delhom Service League, the ceramics affiliate of The Mint Museum from 1972 through spring 2022, established Potters Market 18 years ago.
For most of its life, the Potters Market was an invitational event. In 2019, Delhom League members retooled it as a juried show open to any potter in North Carolina. It’s now more inclusive and features work by skilled artisans who may not have been on the Mint’s radar.
There’s a vessel or sculptural piece for every taste.
Some of the work is joyful and colorful (Kurt Anderson, Benyo Pottery, Emily Flores Ceramics, Melissa Weiss); other work is sleek and simple (David Stuempfle, Candice Hensley). You’ll find pottery that’s intricate (Hanna Traynham, Anja Bartels Porcelain), whimsical (Ron Philbeck, Johnston & Gentithes Studios) and floral (Deborah Harris, Maria Andrade Troya) in nature.
Perhaps the biggest rock star in North Carolina’s esteemed pottery scene is Ben Owen, III, a third-generation Seagrove, N.C. potter with an international reputation. He’ll be back this year, too.
ABOVE: A piece by Melissa Weiss.
Start by doodling
While she may be new to the Potters Market, Stott has made art since she was a kid. “It just feels natural,” she said
Although she’s a highly skilled and trained professional, her work maintains a childlike sensibility. She calls it “playful.”
She used to maintain a studio at Goodyear Arts Collective, an artist-led, nonprofit residency. Since becoming a mom, she’s built a 12 x 12 studio in her backyard, which is where it all happens now. Since having her daughter, she’s also been inspired to make cherubs. (“They’re babies who look like my baby,” she said.)
Her sculpted cherubs find themselves in unlikely positions. In one piece, a couple of mischievous little angels gorge themselves on Funyuns and Utz potato chips. They look a little guilty about being caught mid-snack. Much of Stott’s work elicits a chuckle or amused grin.
Stott is a graduate of Tufts University. Her work has been shown in galleries and exhibitions across the United States, including Redux Contemporary Art Center, Charleston, South Carolina and Wassaic Project in Dutchess County, New York, and she was a 2017 artist-in-residence at Bunker Projects in Pittsburgh.
“My art is sort of like my place I go to both escape and connect with myself,” she said. Her artmaking process begins with a lot of doodling, which she said serves to “clear the mind of garbage.”
“If my hand is continuously moving, the ideas keep coming,” she added. “I might draw an apple – and that leads to drawing an apple cut open, and that might become the sketch for a future pottery piece.”
ABOVE: One of Grace Stott’s cherubs.
Color my world (with cats)
In her artist’s statement, Stott wrote, “I find inspiration in the contrast between this ancient material [clay] and contemporary aesthetics. I strive to elevate the ordinary and infuse it with surreal playfulness using bright colors and pop imagery to create a dream world of femme empowerment, cuteness and decadence where cats reign supreme.”
In Stott’s whimsical world, cats are at the top of the food chain. “I love my cats. And I love to make cats,” she said. “As a kid, I drew cats all the time.”
But it’s not all felines, all the time. “My experiences and identity as a multicultural woman and mother drive my art,” she added. “I’m forever searching for the uncanny feelings, and the heart swells that shape our lives, and I hope to create a world that is both fantastical and relatable.”
Stott’s make-believe world is filled with vibrant color. Her work is so cheerful that you could get the impression she’s always lighthearted and carefree about creating it. But she said she “stresses out a lot about color.”
“It’s such a maker or breaker,” she said. “The right color can really make a piece for me. It’s the most torturous part because I love color so much. I especially love bright colors. It’s hard to find that perfect balance. I always want to add more colors, but I have to stop myself before they get muddied.”
While you may not see the artist’s self-control in one of her lively pieces, it’s there. And so is the struggle.
“Maybe it’s like this for all artists,” she said, “but I feel like I’m always trying to get away from myself. There’ll be a lot of times when I think I’m the problem. When actually, I’m the answer. The artist is the thing that makes the artwork special.”
ABOVE: A piece by Melissa Weiss.
Mugs … and more
Stott has been doing more than making work – and lots of it. (Mint Museum officials encourage potters to bring plenty of inventory to keep up with high demand.) She’s come up with an artistic way to showcase her wares.
She’s combined two thematic ideas. One is a table displaying ceramic picnic foods – large-scale and reimagined, and the other is a table of ceramic animals. Giant ants, for instance. To make the picnic theme truly authentic, she’s adding those famous and frequent picnic invaders. Both Stott and her work have a good sense of humor.
While she said she’ll occasionally make a functional piece – a “crazy mug,” for instance – she mostly makes objects of whimsy that are meant to be admired. “People often tell me I have a unique style,” she said. “It’s not for everyone, though.”
She’s making it a point to have mugs available at the Potters Market, figuring that a lot of attendees will want to buy something functional. The mugs allow her to offer her work at a lower price point than usual. Her starting price for mugs is around $40. She’ll also have Delft-style (the Dutch blue-and-white pottery style that originated c. 1600) ceramic tiles – a neat gift idea – available for around $20.
Break into art collecting with pottery
Buying pottery is a great way to start an art collection without busting your budget. And when you buy at the Potters Market, you’re supporting an artist you had the chance to meet.
Stott and 54 other potters are eager to meet both existing and new patrons. “A lot of artists buy my work,” Stott said.
“I’m honored whenever anyone buys it. My work is so personal to me, and I’m always like: You really want to buy this thing that’s a part of me?”
Feats of clay.
General admission tickets are $20 and are good for Sept. 23 from 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Museum admission is free that day with the purchase of a ticket to the Potters Market. The event takes place on the lawn of the Mint Museum Randolph. Make time for Walter Scott Lenox and American Belleek, which opens the same day. Learn more and buy tickets here: Potters Market at the Mint.
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